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“I can’t work for justice and righteousness if I don’t have love in my heart.”

April 16th, 2018 | 2 min read

By Matthew Loftus

I was so thankful that my friend D.L. Mayfield wrote about the Failed Missionary podcast:

I don’t claim to have all the answers figured out, but I do know that one thing I keep finding is that I can’t work for justice and righteousness if I don’t have love in my heart. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: I can’t critique the church, or Christians, or missions in general if I haven’t come to a place of love first. I have huge issues that I am working through and grappling with, including the legacies of colonialism and imperialism that deserve repentance and the ways I have absorbed a damaging savior complex, but I also have love and tenderness for people who are trying to follow God and to be a part of the work God is doing globally.

Since she won’t toot her own horn, I’ll do it: D.L.’s contribution to the podcast (as well as our friend Amy’s) was fantastic. So good, in fact, that it was jarring to listen to their voices side-by-side with the main segments, which were pretty much a trainwreck of mockery and mangled statistics that failed to make a substantial critique. Fortunately, both Amy and D.L. have books (Dangerous Territory: My Misguided Quest to Save the World and Assimilate or Go Home: Notes From a Failed Missionary) that you can buy and read to get their worthwhile perspectives.

I wanted to highlight what D.L. said because the struggle she describes is very real and very difficult. Being a Christian — any Christian, but especially the sort who is vocationally dedicated to loving others and preaching the Gospel — necessarily involves living with the legacy of those who have gone before us (or unfortunate associations with those on parallel journeys), and that legacy is tainted with both honest mistakes and heart-rending sins. However, the only chance we have at not repeating those same mistakes (or not making our own new mistakes) is to cultivate a heart full of love. Love for the people who went before us, love for the people we’re working with now, and even love for people who disagree with us now.

Matthew Loftus

Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at